Adrian Levy, 51, from Greater London, has enjoyed an incredible career as a partner with a global law firm, but, after 28 years in the corporate world, reaching his milestone fiftieth birthday and personally suffering the impact of Covid-19, Adrian decided he needed to change tack and embarked on his social enterprise dream. His dream is to ensure that every child is given the opportunity to reach their potential and so he set-up a GCSE and A Level tutoring agency to provide the highest quality 1-to-1 tutoring to every child. Adrian is trying to level-up the educational in-balance between the “haves” and “have nots”. Adrian’s tutoring enterprise, which is lovingly inspired and named after his grandfather Peppo – who taught him the joy of learning and the importance of following your dreams – is to ensure that every child has a Peppo in their life. Someone who can be their teacher, mentor and help them realise their dreams.
*Tell us about your social enterprise
My own kids have gone through the state education system and I realised not much had changed since I left school 32 years ago – children with wealthy parents have access and funds for 1-to-1 tuition and therefore, outperform children who have no access to extra tutoring. For many years the academic gap has continued to widen and the pandemic has caused the gap to get even wider, with many disadvantaged kids being left behind with no prospect of reaching their potential. This has been confirmed in recent research from the Department of Education which is concerned over worsening results from disadvantaged secondary school students.
If we are serious about social mobility and equal opportunities for all then we need to take action now. We need to ensure that every child has access to the extra tutoring they require. This drove me to set-up Peppo Tutors, a GCSE and A-Level tutoring agency structured so that 1-to-1 private fees, fund tutoring for disadvantaged children.
I am passionate about playing my part and making a difference by providing extra tuition to all children – regardless of their background , bridging the ever-widening academic gap.
*What did you do before coming up with your social enterprise idea?
For the last 28 years I have been a lawyer at Clifford Chance and for 20 of those years a partner in the Corporate Mergers & Acquisitions Group leading our Global Real Estate Sector. I have been fortunate to work on incredibly interesting and challenging deals, including for Governments around the world . I could have continued with the same type of work for the next 10 years, but during the pandemic, my perspective changed and I wanted to see if I could help others through setting up a social enterprise.
After much soul searching, in November 2020, I handed in my notice to the firm I had worked with since graduating and my first and only employer. The managing partner and my fellow partners were surprised, but incredibly supportive. They showed me so much flexibility, working hard to identify other options, one of which was for me to work on a part-time basis enabling me to maintain a practice whilst giving me the opportunity to establish and grow Peppo Tutors.
*What has the impact being so far?
In May 2021, Peppo had one tutor, (my son) and one student (my daughter), I suppose you could have called it a true family business. But by the end of 2021, Peppo had 54 top quality hand-picked prestigious tutors, including a number of retired teachers and a host of undergraduates and post graduates from Oxford, Cambridge and other top universities.
Families who can afford the tutoring pay £30 per hour, which covers the cost of tutoring for their child and a disadvantaged child – we have currently delivered over 500 hours of tutoring for free to young people across London who were referred to Peppo from foodbanks and community centers. The demand is just huge! every day we receive requests, sometimes from students asking us to help their siblings which proves that it’s not the lack of motivation that holds children back, but the lack of opportunity, and that’s what I want to change. Peppo Tutors is about creating a tutoring revolution where we can extend the highest quality tutoring support to both those who can afford it and those who would never dream of it.
One parent described being able to access free tutoring as ‘winning the golden ticket’, while another paying client added: “The help and support has been fantastic. I was very worried that due to missing so much learning, my child would fall behind and struggle in his subjects, but tutoring has given him a huge boost and helped to improve his progress. The fact that some of the tutoring is provided for free to those who can’t afford it makes it feel worthwhile on so many levels”
*How do you fit work in with the family?
It’s not easy to juggle all the competing demands on your time and I suspect my three kids will tell you that I have much to learn in this area. But there are three techniques I have used over the years which have helped (although none are the silver bullet). Firstly, prioritising – actively seeking to understand all the things you need to do, by when and then putting them in order of importance to you. Of course, that makes me a “list junkee”. Secondly (I told you I liked lists) clearly communicating your timing and possibly the reason for that timing; in my experience no-one minds a piece of work being delivered late if you have to go to the school play or pick-up your son from football. Finally, be understanding and, where you can, help out your work colleagues that makes it easier to ask for their help when you need it (which you will) but more importantly it makes it clear to all that family life is really important and there is no shame in prioritising it.
*What advice would you give to your younger self?
My advice would be to dream big and never give up – everything is possible. When I was young, I was lucky enough to be accepted into an excellent Secondary School, but my first year was a disaster and I was miserable. My parents began to wonder if they had made a mistake. I remember coming home after my first set of exams and having to admit to my parents that I was at the bottom of the class in every subject. My parents despaired and found it hard to hide their disappointment. I decided to knuckle down and, by the end of the second year, I was top of my class… albeit the bottom class in the year group! That year was an important lesson to me in what you need to do to succeed, how hard you need to work and how much you need to sacrifice. I have carried that lesson throughout my life and I honestly believe that if you want something badly enough you can achieve it if you work hard enough.
The past few months have flown by and we have expanded very quickly. We are hoping to continue expanding and launching in Manchester in 2022 and eventually in cities across the UK.
We are also now piloting some live tutoring sessions at a London library to try and reach even more children, particularly those who don’t have the technology to receive online tutoring.
It is incredibly rewarding knowing that what we are doing is helping children who would otherwise be unable to afford it.
What we need now is more parents to consider paying for tuition with Peppo – the more paying clients we have, the more free tuition we can offer to young people to help them reaching their potential. So, if you are considering tuition for your children, please have a look at what we offer because you will be doing more than just helping your own child.
*Links to more info
- To find out more about Peppo Tutoring, please visit: https://peppo.org/need-a-tutor/
- Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/peppotutors
- Instagram – https://www.instagram.com/peppotutors/